Friday, January 31, 2014

Setting Attainable Goals With Writing

Every year I create a long list of goals I intend to meet with regards to my writing. And every year they are abandoned at some point. Why? They are too broad and set for too long of a period. That does not work well for me. I always end up off track.

This year I am going to try and set smaller goals, more attainable ones that will ultimately lead me to reaching my overall goal.

My overall goal is to find an agent. And while that is a great goal, it's a very vague goal. There are a lot of things that go into making this happen. I need to break down this goal into smaller steps that I will repeat over the course of the next year or more. (Hopefully, only this year. lol) 

For this I created a list of each of my writing projects, where I am in the process of writing them, and what the next step is for each of them. They vary from query process, rewrite the ending, polish, and outline so I can write a rough draft.

Deciding with project to tackle first was easy this time around. I have one manuscript that I have sent in the first ten pages for a critique with an editor at an upcoming conference. I have also decided to rewrite the ending. Therefore, that will be my first project and my completion date is set for two days before the conference, one week from yesterday. Yikes! I better get working.

Here are the steps I used to set my current goals. I will continue to use these steps to create new goals throughout the year.

1) Set Short Term Goals: 
Ask yourself what you need to have in order to find that agent or publisher.
For me it is an agent. And the big thing is I need to have a compelling polished manuscript. While I have two, they have yet to garner anything other than rejections. Maybe that is because I have yet to find the right agent. Maybe it is because I need something better, more compelling.
My Short Term Goal: Rewrite ending for WIP #2.

2) Set a Time Line: 
Ask yourself what you need to do in order to meet your short term goal.
Again I need that manuscript that will catch an agents attention. Right now I have two ready for the query process. One I have decided to rewrite the ending on. So that is my main focus at the moment. The timeline will be easy on this project as I submitted the first ten pages of that particular project to an editor for a critique at a upcoming conference. I have seven days, as of today, to rewrite the ending, which really in this case only consists of four chapters needing to be rewritten. After this is completed, I will switch gears to a different project that needs to be polished for the query stage. That will require a longer timeline to complete.
My Time Line: Six - Seven days. (Realistically I need to add next Friday in as well.) 

3) Set a Schedule: 
Ask yourself how much you can realistically get done in a day. Build in time for off days or the possibility of problems arising.
For me I look at my calendar and assume that while I try to get seven days of writing in, I will probably have two days a week where that is nearly impossible. So my goal is to work five days a week on my writing.
But how much is attainable per day? That is the big question and it completely depends on what stage I am in. When I draft I spend one day a chapter, writing a very messy draft. When I edit for plot it can take a day or two depending on how difficult the chapter is to whip into shape. For polishing I tend to take much longer. I like to spend a good deal of time working on each chapter, making sure everything is perfect. I am thinking with this new project I will be polishing in February I will take two to three days per chapter to make sure it is as good as it can be. With thirty-nine chapters in that project, it will definitely take me a great deal of time.
My Schedule: I have six scenes to rewrite. As I only have six to seven days to complete this task I have decided to rewrite one scene a day. If I have extra time on any given day I will write more. 

4) Keep Track of Progress: 
This is the fun part. At least I think so. Not long ago on Twitter I saw a tweet by the wonderful Victoria Schwab about her calendar trick, and she did a wonderful vlog about it. I have a planner type calendar that I use so I can also write down what project I worked on that day.
My Stickers: I will receive one sticker per scene rewritten. When goal is met I will receive an extra special sticker that day. 

5) Reward System: 
As much of a reward system the calendar stickers are, there also needs to be a reward for completing a project. I like to buy myself something sweet. Especially since I am trying to get into shape, that is a real treat. Sometimes just being able to move onto the next project is reward enough. Having something to look forward to is a great motivation. And eventually reaching the goal of finding an agent and/or publisher is the ultimate reward.
My Reward: I get to have a cupcake! I told you, I'm on a diet, that cupcake will be savored, every last bite. lol

Tell us what your short term goals are, if you have them?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Losing Logan

 What if the one thing you never meant to hold on to, is the one thing you can’t let go of?

Losing Logan by Sherry D. Ficklin
Publication Date: May 6th 2014
Genres: YA, Romance, Suspense, Paranormal


Normally finding a hot guy in her bedroom wouldn’t irritate Zoe so badly, but finding her childhood friend Logan there is a big problem. 

Mostly because he’s dead.

As the only person he can make contact with, he convinces Zoe to help him put together the pieces surrounding his mysterious death so he can move on. Thrust into his world of ultra popular rich kids, Zoe is out of her element and caught in the cross-hairs of Logan’s suspicious ex-girlfriend and the friends he left behind, each of whom had a reason to want him dead. The deeper they dig to find the truth, the closer Zoe gets to a killer who would do anything to protect his secrets. And that’s just the start of her problems because Zoe is falling for a dead guy.

Find Losing Logan on Facebook
Sherry D Ficklin’s Official Website

About the Author:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
She is the author of The Gods of Fate Trilogy now available from Dragonfly Publishing. Her previously self-published novel After Burn: Military Brats has been acquired by Harlequin and will be released in 2015 with a second book in that series to follow. Her newest YA steampunk novel, EXTRACTED: The Lost Imperials book 1, co-written with Tyler H. Jolley is now available everywhere books are sold and her newest YA novel, Losing Logan, is due for release in 2014 from Clean Teen Publishing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Devil's Temptation Cover Reveal!

The Devil's Temptation (Book 2 in the Devil Series) is coming March 14th. Here's the beautiful cover and a little about the story:
Fighting the Devil brought Cooper and Grace together. But without a little evil to spice things up, the everyday life of a normal teenager is pretty dull. A summer job crewing on a billionaire’s yacht in sunny Italy might be just the ticket to rekindle passion. While the setting is perfect, the winding, sinister back streets of Naples are also the perfect playground for a scorned Lucifer to wreak havoc. And if evil doesn’t rip them apart, the sultry billionaire’s daughter and the sexy First Officer might be what it takes to finally destroy Cooper and Grace’s love forever.
If you haven't picked up the first book, The Devil's Triangle, and you want to catch up on the excitement, you can get a copy here: Amazon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cover reveal - SILENT STARSONG

Title: Silent Starsong
Author: T.J. Woolridge
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press (
ISBN: 9781939392930
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Formats: Paperback, e-book

Eleven-year-old Kyra is meant to continue the Starbard's proud family legacy of 
interpreting the future from the stars' songs. Her deafness, incurable by the best medics, breaks her mother's heart and pushes her father to explore anything to help his little girl--including the expensive purchase of a telepathic alien servant to help Kyra communicate on a planet inhospitable to unfixable genetic defects.
Marne's telepathy is too weak for his Naratsset culture, so he is sold into slavery and expects to die at the hands of human owners--until he meets a human child who begs her father to "save" him. Her kindness introduces Marne to a new world--one where he would risk his life to save a human from her own people's abuse and the stars' songs can touch even a deaf girl and a defective telepath.

When an intergalactic terrorist organization kills Kyra's father, driving her mother to madness, Kyra and Marne only have each others' friendship--until even that is threatened by the danger surrounding the Starbard heritage. But can the two friends, not good enough for either of their cultures or families, manage to keep each other safe when several different worlds threaten their lives?

If you’d like to request an ARC, please use the reviewer form on our website ( ARC’s will ship in February/March 2014.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Travel to write; Write to travel

We think of traveling as the window we jump through to give flight to our imagination. Getting out of the routine, into a different culture, where the stars in the night are strange and the trees stand funny. We find it exciting because we can use all of those details in our stories. We can add a dash of South African accent to our villain or describe the magnificence of Victoria Falls through our character.

But (and you knew there was a but coming) why doesn’t anyone talk about what a time sucker travel is? First, you spend time planning. Then, you spend time budgeting. Finally, there is all the packing, visa paperwork and general pre-travel jitters. You have spent the better part of six weeks getting ready to travel. Once you are at your destination, which in my case was the astoundingly blue-sky azure-ocean Cape Town, you don’t do much else but gape and sigh and think how lucky you are to be alive.

When you return from your two week holiday, it’s time to catch up at work, clean up the yard, and before you know it, it’s Holiday season and you haven’t met your daily writing quota (for weeks) or posted a blog for a couple of months.

So how do you guard your writing time? How do we take time off to recharge ourselves, and still keep up the productivity? Do we make a choice? What do we choose? In my travels I saw awesome whales, met the most generous people, discussed with great energy Nelson Mandela’s legacy and… didn’t write a word.  Because of the new things I learned and experienced I’m behind on everything else. If life was a race, I’m really very behind.

So yes, traveling is expensive. It’s a time sucker. It will make us fall back on our oh-so neat goals but there’s also just something about it, something we can’t quite pin our finger on that makes us keep taking these journeys. So how do we keep sane while still feeding our soul?

1. Be realistic. Clear out your schedule. Accept you are going to focus on honing your imagination. This is not the time to be focused on your writing goals. See the bigger picture. You need to nurture your soul in order to come back and write those stories.

2. Prioritize. When you return, and you have caught up with those pesky chores, be true to yourself. Cut out those dinners and Sunday brunches for a couple of weekends. Microwave some of your meals. Ignore the laundry. Write again. In a few weeks, you’ll get your mojo back and more secure in your routine (and have time again for Bowling Fridays).  

3. Talk to others who have traveled. Take time to seek out people with similar experiences. See how they viewed their journey. How did they see it differently? Gaining self-awareness is the best thing about travel. It gives you time to nurture yourself, continue to build our awareness of human nature, the world around us and how we interact with it.

These once in a lifetime experiences are what refreshes our imagination and gives us new energy to continue to move forward (especially, when we don’t see an end in sight or a publication offer or when our characters have got us in a real bind). Bon Voyage!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


All of us at Writers by the Shore want to wish you a happy, healthy, fun-filled 2014!